Animal and environmental rights are a big topic in the Netherlands. The country is the first country in the world with a political party with among its main goals animal- and environmentally friendly policy. Although the Party for the Animals considers itself to be a testimony party – a party which does not seek to gain political power but focuses on its principles and thereby influencing other parties – the party is gaining more followers every year. Last March during the municipal elections in the capital Amsterdam the party went from 12 seats to 33 seats. Represented in the parliament, senate and European parliament, the party is also becoming more prominent on the European and national and international stage.
Its founder, a Dutch politician, author and animal rights activist Marianne Thieme, has been the central figure of the party ever since she founded the party in 2002 and she has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2006. Recently Thieme talked about the growth of the party, saying that the Dutch public has begun to understand that ‘a good party for the animals is also a good party for the people. The point she makes here is very valid considering that crises like food crisis, economic crisis, biodiversity crisis and climate change affect both animals and human beings. By fighting for animal rights, the party also touches human right topics. Deforestation for agriculture by example – meaning soy production for feeding kettle raised for dairy – and meat products – harms nature, but also the human habitat of indigenous people.
Being called a one-issue party by some, the Party for the Animals is far from that. In the party’s manifest, a strong view of economics, culture, society, education, and care for the elderly are included. Furthermore, as a member of parliament, Marianne Thieme also speaks out about international affairs – most recently about her dismay over the violence used by the Rajoy government against Catalonian citizens. She made an appeal to all the other European democratic parties to condemn the Spanish government for their behavior, just as Pacma, the Spanish sister party of the Party for the Animals had done.
The same as in Spain, the Party for the Animals is forming bonds throughout Europe with other animal rights and environmental parties. In Sweden, Germany and Portugal parties for animal rights are joining Thieme’s vision for Europe as well: creating a pan-European Party for the Animals with an own manifesto and a fraction in the European parliament.
Annabel (1991) is a graduate historian from the Netherlands working as a freelancer in the field of project management of cultural and historical events. She’s passionate about Italo Disco (it’s a music genre, look it up), photography and cooking 5-star vegetarian meals.
Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.
Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.
Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.
Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.